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Allow foreign university campuses, says Niti Aayog

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Allow foreign university campuses, says Niti Aayog

The report has justified NITI Aayog’s support for the proposal on the ground that foreign universities will help meet the demand for higher education in the country, increase competition and subsequently improve standards of higher education.

 Ritika Chopra

Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked NITI Aayog to study all reports regarding setting up of foreign universities and the reasons on why it could not move forward.

Brightening chances of a UPA-era proposal that was once opposed by the BJP, the NITI Aayog has submitted a report to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) in favour of inviting foreign universities to set up campuses in India.

NITI Aayog has suggested three routes to permit entry of foreign education providers: a new law to regulate the operation of such universities in the country; an amendment to the UGC Act of 1956 and deemed university regulations to let them in as deemed universities; and, facilitating their entry by tweaking UGC and AICTE regulations on twinning arrangements between Indian and foreign institutions to permit joint ventures.
The report has justified NITI Aayog’s support for the proposal on the ground that foreign universities will help meet the demand for higher education in the country, increase competition and subsequently improve standards of higher education.
“India stands to gain from setting up of foreign universities in terms of availability of resources both human and financial, state-of-the-art teaching methodology, research and innovation… Capital expenditure in the cost of setting up an institution is high and land and buildings are also a major issue. Entry of foreign universities and leveraging FDI will offset some of these costs,” the report states.
Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked NITI Aayog to study all reports regarding setting up of foreign universities and the reasons on why it could not move forward. He had even called a meeting of senior bureaucrats in June 2015 to discuss the feasibility of encouraging top foreign education providers.
This issue is also one of the discussion points for the new education policy which will be unveiled this year. The proposal, incidentally, was backed by ten state governments including Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab and Jammu & Kashmirwhere the BJP is in power.
Governments in the past have made several attempts to enact legislation for entry, operation and regulation of foreign universities in the country. The first was in 1995 when a Bill was introduced but could not go forward. In 2005-06 too, the draft law could not go beyond the Cabinet stage. The last attempt was by UPA-II in 2010 in the shape of the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill, which failed to pass muster in Parliament and lapsed in 2014 since it was opposed by the BJP, Left and Samajwadi Party.
One of the reservations on foreign universities operating in India was that they would raise the cost of education, rendering it out of reach for a large part of the population. On this, the NITI Aayog has said “financial assistance in the form of loans and scholarships should be made available to deserving students irrespective of their ability to pay based on merit-cum-means”.
There are currently 651 foreign education providers in India which have either entered into collaborative twinning programmes, share faculty with partnering institutions and offering distance education.

ASIAN AGE, APR 16, 2016

No subjective questions in Delhi University PG entrance
Entrance examinations for post-graduate courses in the Delhi University may no longer have subjective questions, but only multiple-choice questions.
A 18 member standing committee, comprising deans of various faculties, has been constituted by the vice chancellor, Prof. Yogesh K. Tyagi, to deliberate on replacing the subjective question papers with multiple choice ones.
The vice-chancellor will take a final call once the committee submits its recommendations, after which the schedule for the admissions will be announced.
“The committee is of the view that the subjective questions should be done away with to ensure transparency in evaluation. If the vice-chancellor approves, there will only be objective question papers from the upcoming academic session,” a committee member said.
The standing committee is also considering setting up of admission centres outside Delhi to help the outstation aspirants take the entrance examination at the nearest centre rather than visiting Delhi.
“The panel is considering setting up of five centres for conducting entrance examinations, however, the modalities need to worked out. The choices for the centres include Kolkata, Chennai, Jammu, Ahmedabad and Nagpur. More centres can be explored,” the member added. The admission process, which is likely to begin by the end of this month, will have a common application form for centralised registration for the applicants. Apart from those faculties and departments offering interdisciplinary or professional courses, all other departments reserve 50 per cent of the total seats in each programme for direct admission to the students who have completed their undergraduate degrees from the Delhi University.
Remaining 50 per cent of the seats will be filled by a merit list compiled after taking into account entrance examinations and the interview, which is decided by individual departments.
HINDU, APR 19, 2016

Private schools will need govt. permission to hike fee


After sending notices to at least three private schools over fee hike, the Delhi government has asked schools to seek prior sanction before doing so.

The government has directed all private schools here to seek permission from the Directorate of Education (DoE) if they wish to increase the fee and submit a detailed proposal. The DoE had recently sent notices to two branches of Delhi Public School (Rohini and Mathura Road), and Kalka Public School, Alaknanda, asking them to roll back the hike.

Delhi Education Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who has been tightening the noose on private schools, on Monday tweeted: “It’s ‘School Vs Teaching Shops’! I fully support schools but nt teaching shops, till they start working as schools [sic].”

He had directed the DoE to take action against “errant” schools that have not just hiked the fees, but also “compelled” students to buy books from private publishers.

“All heads of private unaided recognised schools allotted land by land-owning agencies on the condition of seeking prior sanction from the DoE for increase in fee are directed to submit their proposals, if any, for prior sanction for the academic session 2016-17,” DoE Director Saumya Gupta said in a communication to private schools.

The proposals have to be submitted on the DoE’s website by May 31, following which they will be scrutinised by a team of officials. As key documents, the schools will have to submit details of receipts and payment account, income and expenditure account, balance sheet for the years 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16, along with budget estimates for the ensuing year, statement of salary disbursed to staff and detail of all funds.

“In case the schools have already charged increased fee prior to issue of this order, the same shall be liable to be adjusted by the schools in terms of sanction by the DoE. In case no proposal is submitted by the school, it shall not increase the fee and any increased fee already charged shall be refunded/ adjusted by it,” the letter further added.

Citing a Delhi High Court ruling, the communication said all private unaided recognised schools built on land allotted by the Delhi Development Authority/other government agencies at concessional rates or otherwise will not increase tuition fee without prior permission of the Directorate.

Detailed proposals seeking hike have to be submitted on DoE’s website by May 31

ASIAN AGE, APR 16, 2016

AAP government guidelines to prevent fee hike


The AAP government is coming out with a set of new guidelines to prevent private schools from arbitrarily hiking their fees and plans to terminate land lease of erring private schools that do not follow proper procedure. The guidelines will also spell out serious action which the government would take against those schools that do not provide 25 per cent seats to the students belonging to the economically weaker sections.
The new guidelines will apply to 410-odd private schools that have been provided land on concessional rates by the city administration. The AAP government’s decision to come out with new guidelines follows complaints against about 25 private schools that had arbitrarily effected fees hike without seeking prior approval of the city government. Following these complaints, the AAP government conducted an internal inquiry that revealed as many as 50 schools had already hiked their fees in violation of rules and others were in the process of doing so in the near future.
After issuing notices to some schools to refund the hiked fees to the students, the Kejriwal government also initiated the process of taking over the control of two prestigious private schools. The administration also set up a complaint centre requesting parents to freely make complaints against schools that were violating the rules. The centre is being regularly monitored by deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia.
A highly-placed source said that only those schools will be granted permission to increase their fees after their financial health is audited for a period of three successive years by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. Each school is required to keep advance salary of its employees for a period of four months. The audit will also take into account how the school has utilised its funds on movable and immovable assets. The audit will also go into the details whether the school has spent money in violation of the Delhi Education Act. If any school has surplus money and has made investments in violation of the rules, it will not be granted permission to effect any hike in its fees structure.
The AAP government will also send a strong warning to those private schools that have hiked their fees without seeking its prior permission. All such schools will have to refund the revised fees hike to the students within a set time limit. The land lease of the schools that do not follow the guidelines can also be terminated.
ASIAN AGE, APR 16, 2016

JNU reduces grace marks for women
Amending its admission policy after nearly a decade, the Jawaharlal Nehru University on Friday reduced compulsory grace points given to women candidates for the entrance examination.
“Now female and transgender candidates, who have pursued their education from any of the areas in JNU’s list of backward areas, are entitled to relaxation of four marks, while girls and transgenders not belonging to any backward areas can get a relaxation of only two points,” an university official said.
Until now, all female admission-seekers were entitled to five “deprivation” points in the entrance exam. In addition, if they belonged to backward areas listed by the JNU under Quartile 1 (demarcation of backward areas) and Quartile 2 categories, they got additional privilege of five and three marks, respectively.

Recently, the university also decided not to provide OBC candidates 10 per cent relaxation in the entrance examination as a part of the revised rules to the admissions policy.

The varsity had introduced the compulsory distribution of five points to the women candidates in 1994.
However, the move has drawn severe criticism from a section of students and teachers who have decided to launch an agitation against the administration. “Girls used to get an excessive advantage in comparison to male candidates. For instance, if a girl belonged to a Quartile 1 district, she would get a total relaxation of 10 marks, which will place her way above a more competent male candidate,” the official said. “So, the standing committee for admissions took the decision to modify the policy after deliberating upon all factors.”
The students alleged that the statutory procedures for introducing such changes have been “bypassed” and no official notification of the amendments has been issued. JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid Shora said, “Any such crucial change has to be placed before the academic council and opinion of the members of the students’ union has to be taken into account. However, the matter was neither discussed nor conveyed to any body and we got to know about the changes only from new prospectus.”



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